Create beautiful and unique Earth Day spin art with your kids, while also learning about different environments on our planet. This project gives a twist to typical spin-art by adding glue at the end, which is then used to affix sand, dirt, and baking soda to give your Earths an intriguing texture and to spark conversation about the different environments on Earth!
Cut paper to the size of your spin-art box and affix to the spinner
Prepare green and blue paint to your liking. You can also experiment with adding a little water to thin the paints and see what different effects you get.
While spinning, drop, pour, or drip paint onto the paper.
When you’re happy with the paint portion, squeeze about a teaspoon of glue right in the center of the spinning paper, then turn off the machine.
Sprinkle sand where you want to create a desert, dirt where you want to create a continent with fertile land, and baking soda on where you want frozen tundra.
Shake off excess, let dry, and admire your work!
My four year old really enjoyed this whole process and made six spin-art Earths in one sitting. We discussed where on (actual) Earth exists deserts, temperate and tropical forests, and tundra, some of the animals that live in those environments, and what it’s like to live in each.
We also made our own spin-art box together, which added a lot to the experience for her. If you’re interested, check out our DIY spin-art box here!
This activity takes raised salt painting to a whole new level! In this twist, we use some secret ingredients that will make the special paint change color once it hits the salt!
The above picture was made entirely by my almost four year old. And even though this was the fourth picture she had made, the process was still as magical to her as the first time.
The secret to the color change is in the special paint. Instead of a true watercolor, we are using red cabbage juice! Red cabbage juice contains molecules called anthocyanins that change color when exposed to different pH levels. For more of the science involved, check out this post. The painting surface, which is usually just glue and salt in the classic activity, is actually different mixes of glue, salt, and safe household acids or bases in our version. You can create the picture beforehand for your child (like I did above in the mermaid video), or they can plan and create their own science art all by themselves (like the snowman further up).
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Containers to hold the salt mixes, with labels and spoons
Making Red Cabbage Juice
There are several ways to get juice from a red cabbage. All of these methods make quite a bit of juice. We freeze leftover juice in an ice cube tray, then save the cubes to melt for future projects.
Just juice some in a juicer (if you have one).
Add about a quarter of the cabbage to a blender and blend with about a cup of water (adding more or less depending on how much cabbage you have). Then strain the liquid.
Bring ~2 cups of water with chopped red cabbage to a boil, turn off heat and let sit till it’s cool. Strain the liquid.
Making the Salt Mixes
You can safely access three colors of the red cabbage juice with household solid chemicals: blue-green, purple, and pink. Prepare the mixes in a bowls or cups. Don’t forget to label them. Make as much as you need, or save some for later. The amount you make will depend on how much glue you need to cover, but the mermaids above took about 2 tbs of each.
Acidic Mix (Pink): 1 part citric acid to 6 parts table salt
Alkaline Mix (Blue green): 1 part baking soda to 3 parts table salt
Neutral Mix (Purple): All table salt
Making Your Art
Draw your design on the paper with a pencil.
Decide which parts will be blue, pink, or purple.
Using the glue, trace the drawing on just the lines that will be pink.
Sprinkle the Acidic Mix onto the glue (with fingers or a spoon), then shake off the excess.
Using the glue, trace the parts of the drawing that will be blue-green.
Sprinkle the Alkaline Mix over the new glue, then shake off the excess.
Using the glue, trace the parts of the drawing that will be purple.
Sprinkle the Neutral Mix over the newest glue then shake off the excess.
Let dry for about 30 min (This is optional. It will still work when the glue is wet, but you just have to be careful to not smoosh it with the paintbrush otherwise acid or base crystals that get stuck to the brush may change the color of your paint stock when you double dip.)
Load a brush with red cabbage juice and touch it to the salt/glue lines. Keep dabbing until your whole painting changes color before your eyes!
If you try this, be sure to share your creations with us! Find us on Instagram and Twitter @cara_florance. Use the hashtag #IBravedTheElements and we might feature you!
One of the best ways to bring a new activity into your kid’s life is to be inspired by a special book. After reading Ada Lace Sees Red, (SPOILER ALERT) which features a robot that can paint (and an intelligent heroine), my daughter couldn’t get enough, so I thought I’d expand her love of the book by helping her make her own art-bot.
This project uses a vibrating motor to wiggle a cup attached to paint brushes. Other variations of vibrobots include bots that vibrate a scrub brush (bristlebots) and bots with markers for coloring!
Note: Instead of using a motor with a nut, you can alternately just buy a vibrating motor. I prefer making it from a normal motor because we can also use the motor for other things that don’t involve vibration, whereas vibrating motors can only be used for vibrating things.
Securely tape the bolt nut to one side of the motor shaft. As the motor spins, the nut will cause it to be unbalanced, making the whole thing vibrate.
Hook up your circuit (including a switch if you would like). Be sure to follow the directions on the motor you purchase, as incorrect wiring can cause things to get hot or spark.
Add the battery and test your motor, making sure the nut is securely affixed so it doesn’t fly off.
Flip the cup upside-down and tape 3-4 paintbrushes around it so it can stand up on the brush ends (see picture above with markers as an example).
Tape the battery terminal and motor to the cup, ensuring the nut has room to move around.
Test out your bot to make sure everything is affixed securely.
Dip the brushes into paint, put it on paper, then turn it on!
This can also be done with markers, which are less messy than paint, or crayons, which are even less messy than markers. After you’re done making art, try attaching your eccentric motor to something else, like a scrub brush or dry mop!
Book Inspiration- Ada Lace: Sees Red
From the publisher:
From Emily Calandrelli—host of Xploration Outer Space, correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World, and graduate of MIT—comes the second novel in a brand-new chapter book series about an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, math, and solving mysteries with technology.
Ada Lace is building a new robot! She’s determined to beat Milton in the upcoming robotics competition. But she’s distracted—Ada finds her dad’s art class impossible, while Nina is the star of the class, basking in the glory of being Mr. Lace’s star pupil.
When Mr. Lace suggests that Nina put on an art show, Ada becomes jealous and loses her temper. Now Ada isn’t speaking to her dad, she’s falling behind in art class, and she still doesn’t know how to fix her robot. As the competition looms closer, Ada starts to wonder if there might be a way to use both science and art to solve her problems.
Will Ada make up with her father in time to test her hypothesis? Or will her hurt feelings leave her seeing red and without a medal at the end of the day?
Ada Lace Adventures is a series about a girl who uses science to help solve problems and mysteries. It is intended for readers ages 8+, but I read them a chapter at a time to my young daughter. The books are not in-your-face nerdy at all, as Ada is just an ordinary girl who likes science. I like that these books counter the stereotypical dorky science character that we frequently see. They are well written, fun to read, and a great addition to your chapter book library.
Get ready for an incredibly simple set up with an incredibly entertaining result. You won’t believe how easy it is to make your own color changing paint with just two ingredients: red cabbage and white paint (and honestly, you can leave out the white paint and it still works, just more like water colors). Red cabbage has a huge amount of the highly pigmented group of molecules called anthocyanins. Widely known for their antioxidant capacity, these molecules also have the amazing ability to change color when exposed to a pH change. Read on for the method to make your own color changing paint and a little science lesson below!
This post is part of a series on chlorophyll! Check out our previous post about how to easily extract chlorophyll from spinach and use it as a paint. Using a black light, you can also observe the beautiful red/pink fluorescence of chlorophyll, too! This post is how to further purify chlorophyll through a technique called liquid-liquid extraction or solvent extraction. Don’t be intimidated by the name! You are totally capable. This can be done with common, inexpensive things from your kitchen and it’s a great way to learn about solubility, polarity, and the way chemists approach problems. Younger kids will not grasp the concepts of polarity and solubility, but they can track the location of chlorophyll throughout the experiment (through color) to begin to learn about these concepts.
This tutorial is written for the parent or educator. There is a section called “A quick science lesson” to help give you a background to present this to a class or your kids. You can go as little or as much into the details as you want, so this project can be done with a large age range of kids.
This post is part of a series on chlorophyll, a molecule both plants and humans owe their lives to! This specific activity is a fun, easy, and art-inspired introduction to chlorophyll for children 2 years old and up where we will make paint from the chlorophyll in spinach leaves, then observe the fluorescence of the chlorophyll artwork with a black light! If you can paint, and not eat the paint, this activity is for you!